Council examines downtown parking regulations

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Downtown parking regulations are being reconsidered by Sidney City Council.

Parking in the downtown district was a topic of discussion at Monday evening’s meeting. City Manager Mark Cundiff said a downtown business recently asked the city to begin enforcing the daily parking restriction of 3 to 5 a.m. on some streets because spots are regularly not available for potential customers.

Cundiff said if the city is going to enforce the law at this location, it should enforce the law at all downtown locations. He said after “further investigation,” it became obvious other daily parking restrictions from 1 to 5 a.m. around courtsquare may be “problematic” if enforced due to businesses staying open until 2 a.m. Also, aside from the potential negative impact for downtown businesses, another concern is that intoxicated patrons may choose to move their vehicle, to avoid being ticketed, instead of getting a ride home.

The main reason for the parking restrictions is to allow the city to sweep downtown streets without cars in the way.

Council seemed somewhat divided on the topic. Councilmember Joe Ratermann questioned if an immediate solution could be to enforce the parking restriction of 3 to 5 a.m. so the city could sweep the streets and address the business’ concerns until a comprehensive parking study could be completed. Councilmember Darryl Thurber agreed. But he suggested leaving the restriction on the inner area of downtown from 1 to 5 a.m., because no matter what they choose to do, someone effected will be unsatisfied.

Cundiff pointed out the restrictions (especially near the businesses serving alcohol until 2 a.m.) may still motivate intoxicated people to move their car.

Mayor Mike Barhorst also said if the city is fortunate enough to attract more businesses downtown, such as restaurants likely selling liquor, people will be parked there and they don’t want to be counter-productive by ticketing people. He said downtown parking had probably not been addressed in 30 to 40 years.

Cundiff said he is not certain if downtown parking has ever been addressed from the stand-point of festivals, either.

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan said even though she doesn’t want businesses negatively impacted, she was concerned about the safety of residents walking a long way from parking to their apartments. She suggested possibly creating a parking pass for downtown residents, which could also inform them of the street sweeping schedule.

The idea was mentioned of possibly alternating parking restrictions to every other day on opposite sides of the road.

Sidney Alive Executive Director Amy Breinich attended to offer Sidney Alive’s perspective on the downtown and the business hours. She said, after reviewing a map of the nine-block downtown parking, it appears “pretty chopped-up” with different ordinances that council needs to address at some point.

Barhorst asked Breinich to bring a recommendation back to council. Breinich said after she further confers with others, she hopes to bring something back in March.

In other business, Utilities Director Larry Broughton presented council with information about the adjustment of Port Jefferson’s sewer rates.

Broughton explained Sidney entered into a Wastewater Management Agreement and Wastewater Treatment Agreement with the village of Port Jefferson in March 2000 after the Ohio EPA ordered Port Jefferson to abate the sewage that was going to the Great Miami River from on lot septic systems. He said Port Jefferson’s sewer rates are based on Sidney’s operation and maintenance costs, sewer billings costs plus a 50 percent outside corporation rate surcharge.

Broughton said the revised sewer rates are increasing by 1.7 percent to the rate of $4.15 per Ccf (cost per 100 cubic feet of waste), effective March 1. He said the increase is because operational costs rose slightly due to increased in chemical costs, as well as increases in staff/maintenance and capital expenses.

Broughton said total revenue collected in 2016 from Port Jefferson sewer charges was $33,347.

Council also discussed whether there is a need to schedule an additional meeting during the 2017 budget meetings sessions after some members felt two of the 2016 budgets meetings were too long. Cundiff presented various options for adding a meeting, if members felt it was necessary. Council’s consensus was to stick with the “traditional two meeting review with the understanding they may last longer than normal.”

Councilmember Steve Wagner said it is an “important document” that needs their focus and only happens a couple times of the year, and he knows it is “just part of the job.”

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.